Blueberry Muffins

Everyone likes muffins, don’t they?   Well, I can’t understand how anyone could possibly not like muffins.   One of my favourite afternoon treats used to be to pick up a blueberry or chocolate muffin from the supermarket at lunchtime to eat during the afternoon.   When those visits to the supermarket got a little too frequent I had to make myself stop.  After all, I’ve seen the lists of fat, sugar and calories for bought muffins and they are shockingly high!   I’d like to say that these are much healthier.   I’m not a nutritionist but they are a little bit smaller, and anything you make yourself just has to be healthier, doesn’t it?   And of course they have fruit in them, which is always good.   They still have the soft inside like bought muffins and the slightly sticky outside.   Oh yes, these are good muffins.

So why have I have got around to making them before?  Well, maternity leave (at the moment) has given me a bit more time for baking so when Tina announced that for April the Crazy Cooking Challenge would be to make blueberry muffins, I knew that the time had come and I just needed to find a blogger with a recipe.  A few days later when Tandy at Lavender and Lime posted a recipe for blueberry muffins, I knew I’d found my recipe.  Tandy is a lovely South African blogger who I discovered a few months ago and she has a wonderful selection of recipes and stories connected to them on her blog so do take a look at the original recipe and post.

Ingredients – Makes about 12 small muffins

215g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g caster sugar

75g blueberries

60g butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

120ml milk

How to Make Blueberry Muffins

1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large mixing bowl.   Mix together.  Then stir in the blueberries.

2. Melt the butter in a microwave or small saucepan.

3. Using a fork, mix the milk into the egg and then mix in the melted butter.

4. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture.  Stir it in gently so it is only just mixed in.  Don’t worry if there are any small lumps.

5. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and spoon the mixture into the cases.

6. Bake in the oven at about 200C for 15 minutes.

7. Cool the muffins on a wire rack.

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Blueberry Cheesecake

There is something I love about cheesecake.   No, not just something, lots of things.   Firstly, I love the biscuit base.   It has to be biscuit.   Why does anyone make anything else?   If you’ve experienced the disappointment of ordering cheesecake in a restaurant for it then to come with a sponge or pastry base, you’ll know exactly what I mean.   I also love the creaminess of it.    Creaminess but in a cheesy way.   I’ve also been disappointed by ordering a cheesecake that managed to provide a tasty biscuit base but then topped this with a mixture that tasted like little more than whipped cream.    And finally, I like fruit in or with my cheesecake, not chocolate.    So you see, I’m not picky.     Of course, I will eat all of these creations, and may even like them, but they are not going to satisfy my ultimate cheesecake cravings.   Sometimes when you know exactly what you want, you have to make it yourself, and that’s what I did here.   And I’m rather proud of my very first cheesecake, inspired by BBC Good Food.

I stuck with their recipe for the base, but for the filling I used blueberries instead of raspberries.   I also only had two eggs left so I missed out the extra egg yolk.    It may have made a difference, but not one that I could taste.   So now I’ve dipped my toe in the world of cheesecakes, expect a few more over the coming months.    I may even break my principles and make a chocolate one.    But don’t worry,   I’ll never venture near a sponge base.

I am submitting this to Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – Serves 12

600g cream cheese

150ml sour cream

100g blueberries + extra to serve

8 digestive biscuits

50g butter

2tbsp plain flour

175g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

How to Make Blueberry Cheesecake

1. Put the biscuits in a food processor to make into crumbs or put in a food bag and bash with a rolling pin.   Melt the butter and mix into the crumbs.  Then put into the bottom of a cheesecake tin (about 23cm) and press down.   Bake for 10 minutes at about 180C.

2. In a large bowl put the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla essence, flour and sugar.  Whisk briefly until smooth.   Add 100g blueberries and mix in.

3. When the base has cooled.   Add the cream cheese mixture and return to the oven.   Bake for 40-45 minutes.   It should still be a little wobbly in the middle but set around the edges.

4. Leave to cool in the tin then serve with the extra berries.

Inspired by Masterchef: Vanilla Panna Cotta and Mixed Berry Sauce

Last week on Masterchef it was all about baking and desserts so I really was spoilt for choice over what to make – cupcakes, clafoutis, eccles cakes, bakewell tart or choux buns were just some of the options I had to  turn down.  I don’t consider myself to be an expert on desserts, but I do like making them and am almost always happy with the results.   Well, how could anyone not be happy with creamy vanilla and berries?

I chose panna cotta in the end as it is something I had planned on making for a long time.  It is also one of the desserts on my list of new year food plans.   Looking back at the list it strikes me that I have actually made a lot more of the desserts than savoury dishes.  Something that will have to be put right after Masterchef finishes I think.

The last time I ate panna cotta was about a month ago in a restaurant on my birthday and I was a bit disappointed with the texture.   It just wasn’t smooth and creamy enough.   But, luckily the one I made was perfect.  I can say with 100 percent confidence that my one was better than the restaurant one.   I served it with a warm sauce which made it melt a little at the sides but both texture and taste were lovely.   Next time I have guests I know what I’ll be making.

Next week’s Inspired by Masterchef post will be published early on 28 April.

I am also sending this to Lisa at Sweet as Sugar Cookies for Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – serves 2

250ml double cream

1tsp vanilla essence

25g caster sugar

1g gelatine leaf

Berry Sauce

Approx 3 tbsp frozen mixed berries

1 tbsp caster sugar

30ml water

How to make Vanilla Panna Cotta and Mixed Berry Sauce

1. Soak the gelatine leaf in warm water.   When it’s soft, squeeze the excess water out.

2. Put the cream, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan and heat.   Stir to dissolve the sugar.  When it is bubbling around the edge and just about to boil, take it off the heat and add the gelatine leaf.   Stir till fully dissolved.

3. Pour into two ramekins and put in the fridge.   They will need a minimum of two hours to set.

4. Make the sauce by putting all the berries, sugar and water into a small saucepan.   Bring to the boil and reduce till the sauce is syrupy and the berries are beginning to break down.

5. To serve, fill a saucepan with boiling water from the kettle. Hold the ramekin in the pan for about 20 seconds.  Turn the ramekin over onto a plate and the panna cotta should fall out. Spoon some sauce onto the side.If serving the sauce warm then serve immediately as it will begin to melt the panna cotta.